Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 gaming laptop review
Image: Chris Button.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (PHN16-72) review: big and powerful

7.9

Laptops are an inherently personal device – I mean, it’s right there in the acronym ‘PC’ after all. Gaming laptops perhaps embody that philosophy more so than any other type of computer. Testing out the latest Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 (an absolute mouthful of a name) had me getting all philosophical about these portable machines. It’s an extremely powerful laptop that does a lot of things well, provided you don’t mind making some sacrifices along the way.

Straight out of the gate, I’ll say this: there’s no one ultimate combination of specs, features, and design elements that guarantees a great computer. Everyone’s needs vary greatly, so what might be perfect for one person could be utterly worthless to another. Some folks prefer versatility and portability, while there are those who’d much rather have a huge screen and the absolute best performance possible.

Design decisions are amplified tenfold in devices designed for gaming. Take handheld gaming PCs, for example. The Asus ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go favour portability over raw power, meaning they can’t run some games. Meanwhile, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 is all power, all the time. It’s a big, hulking beast of a laptop, which is great for playing the latest and greatest, but not for all-around convenience.

In terms of sheer gaming output, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 excels. It cranks out frames galore on some of the most demanding PC games, like Returnal and CyberPunk 2077. This power comes at the cost of battery life, however, which is not a unique complaint regarding gaming laptops.

Again, your needs will determine how much this ultimately matters. Acer capably serves the hardcore gaming audience, as long as you don’t venture too far from a power outlet.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 review

First impressions

Although I’m not one for large laptops – I’m more of a 14-inch guy myself – Acer has used the laptop’s sizable footprint efficiently. Though at nearly three kilograms, plus a weighty power brick, it’s not the easiest thing to lug around. An upside to that is by sacrificing portability, the laptop wields a fair amount of utility.

There’s an impressively wide range of ports, and I like the centrally located charging port on the back. Too often, laptops force you to pick a spot where you can reach either the left or right side of the device, which may not work with your existing desk setup. Placing it smack-bang in the middle is a solid compromise.

Also taking advantage of the laptop’s size is the full-sized keyboard, including a numerical keypad. I’ve used TKL keyboards for years, so I can’t remember the last time I regularly used a numpad, but having the option is nice. Despite the real estate on offer, the trackpad is surprisingly small and wasn’t overly comfortable to use. But let’s face it: if you’re frequently playing games, you’re using an external mouse instead of a laptop’s trackpad.

As far as gaming-themed devices go, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 adopts an understated aesthetic. Other than RGB keyboard lighting, the only main flourish is a rear spoiler-like section that adds a bit of industrial flair and airflow assistance.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 specifications

CPUIntel Core i7-14700HX
Display16-inch LED WQXGA (2560 x 1600) resolution
240Hz refresh rate
Operating system Windows 11
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 8GB
Memory 32GB DDR5 memory
Storage 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
Connectivity One USB-C port
Three USB-A ports
One HDMI 2.1 port
3.5mm audio jack
MicroSD card slot
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.2
Ethernet
Camera 720p resolution at 30fps
Battery 90Wh Li-ion battery
Dimensions 357.78mm (W) x 278.63mm (D) x 27.85mm (H)
Weight2.80kg
Price (RRP)$3,999
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteAcer Australia

Performance

With a name like Predator Helios Neo 16, you know there’s one thing and one thing only this laptop’s built for – gaming. On that front, Acer has knocked it out of the park. Powered by Nvidia’s RTX 4070 laptop GPU, every game tested ran without trouble. Whether on Ultra or High graphical settings, you won’t have any trouble getting smooth gameplay.

Notoriously resource-heavy games like Returnal and The Last of Us Part I ran strongly, as did the mammoth Cyberpunk 2077. Even without additional frame generation technology like DLSS, each game comfortably played at the laptop’s native 2560 x 1600 resolution when supported.

GameAverage frames per second (FPS)
Forza Horizon 5 benchmark (Extreme, 2560 x 1600)88
Baldur’s Gate 3 (Ultra, 2560 x 1600)119.4
The Last of Us Part I (High, 2560 x 1600)72
Returnal benchmark (High, 1920 x 1200)114
Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark (Ultra, 2560 x 1600)53.97
Solium Infernum (Ultra, 2560 x 1600)94.8

You’ll notice that Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t quite hit 60fps via the in-game benchmark, but a couple of tweaks would easily bump it up. If you turned down the graphical preset or the display resolution, and enabled DLSS or FSR frame generation, you’d be in business.

Although nothing I tested pushed up to the display’s 240Hz refresh rate, it’s only specific games that would take full advantage. Competitive titles like League of Legends and Counter-Strike 2 tend to be easier to run, and pro players usually turn down the graphical quality to prioritise frame rate above all else.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 power settings
It’s quick and easy to cycle through power settings via the dedicated button above the function keys. Image: Chris Button.

Without using the fanciest OLED or Mini LED technology, the display still looks pretty swish. Colours look deep and vibrant, covering 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut, helping games look their best. The display is also great at rejecting reflections and nearby light sources. Its matte finish helps stave off annoying glare, which my house is filled with during daylight hours.

Make some noise

From a purely gaming perspective, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 clears the bar by a significant margin. What I do recommend, however, is that you use a decent pair of headphones. Its fan makes a lot of noise when under load. No matter your choice of Balanced, Performance or Turbo power settings, it’s a noisy laptop. To the laptop’s credit, the fans do a great job of keeping the temperature down to comfortable levels.

As is common among gaming laptops, battery life is the main shortcoming. Even on Standard performance mode and just browsing online, I got nowhere near a full day of use without needing to plug in.

When gaming and drawing more power, you expect to drain the battery quickly, although it was frustrating to not get much life out of general productivity tasks. However, I go back to my earlier point that this is a specific laptop made for a specific purpose.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 size
Make sure you’ve got plenty of room because the laptop and its power brick are large lads. Image: Chris Button.

I travel a bit for work, and this is a laptop I wouldn’t use on a plane, for example. Beyond its short battery life, it’s too big to use in a confined space anyway. However, I’d happily use the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 after checking into a hotel room, where I’ve got space and power aplenty. Its portability extends to taking it from one location to another, and that’s okay.

Another element to consider is its keyboard. Now, keyboards are another highly subjective topic. I prefer a mechanical keyboard with tactile switches. Using this laptop’s keys felt too soft for my liking, and I wasn’t used to the keycaps’ shape. I did like the generous array of specific function keys, though. For example, changing the power settings was as simple as tapping a dedicated key until you cycled through to your preferred option.

Benchmarks

CPU

To give a bit more of an idea of how powerful Acer’s laptop truly is, these synthetic benchmark results firmly place it near the top of our tested devices. Starting with CPU performance, the Predator Helios Neo 16 may not feature one of the much-hyped Intel Core Ultra chips, but the i7-14700HX is no slouch.

DeviceCPU (Single-core)CPU (Multi-core)
Acer Predator Helios Neo 162,90317,385
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8)2,87017,089
MacBook Pro M2 Max2,70114,916
Macbook Air M33,07512,015
Asus ROG Ally2,54312,181
Lenovo Legion Go2,3469,619
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 21,5678,761
Geekbench 6 CPU test
DeviceCPU (Single-core)CPU (Multi-core)
Acer Predator Helios Neo 161,395123
MacBook Pro M2 Max1221,031
Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406)105763
Macbook Air M3141550
Cinebench 24 CPU test

GPU

In a head-to-head contest, last year’s Lenovo Legion Pro 7i appears to squeeze more performance out of its RTX 4070 graphics card. Bear in mind that synthetic benchmarks can vary between tests, and that the real-world performance of both Lenovo and Acer’s laptops is through the roof.

DeviceOpenCL
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8)158,787
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16119,970
Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED82,480
MacBook Pro M2 Max72,833
Macbook Air M330,479
Geekbench 6 GPU test
DeviceScore
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8)13,796
Acer Predator Helios Neo 1612,881
Asus TUF A169,196
Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406)3,235
Asus ROG Ally (30W)3,198
3DMark Time Spy test

Aside from being one of the beefiest computers tested on GadgetGuy, I noticed something interesting as part of this laptop’s marketing on Acer’s website. Mentions of AI features litter the product page, joining in the current hype cycle.

The fact the Predator laptop doesn’t have a dedicated neural processor for AI workloads isn’t a big deal. Most of the current AI-based features rely on cloud technology instead of local hardware anyway.

My point is that it looks like someone’s been playing with Microsoft’s Copilot generative AI technology if the below marketing image is anything to go by.

Now, look closely at a few things here. Firstly, where is that headphone cable going? I’m also not sure the right hand should be clipping through the mouse either. Also, does the thumb on the left hand look a bit… phallic to you?

None of this is an indictment on the laptop, but it’s not a great look.

Who is the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 for?

A laptop built for raw gaming power above all else, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 helps games run and look their best.

It makes a lot of noise and has a short battery life, which are reasonable trade-offs for those wanting a high-powered gaming laptop.

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16
Made for high-octane gaming, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 powers through the latest games at the cost of battery life.
Features
8
Value for money
7.5
Performance
8.5
Ease of use
8
Design
7.5
Positives
Powerful
Vibrant anti-glare screen
Plenty of ports
Negatives
Short battery life
Noisy fan
7.9